The Frontier Tech Leaders Programme kicks off the first Machine Learning bootcamp
September 1, 2023
September 1, 2023 – The "Frontier Tech Leaders" programme (FTL) welcomed its first cohort of participants at today’s kick-off event. The initiative, which aims to train the next generation of tech specialists in the least developed countries (LDCs), gave the official start of its Machine Learning Bootcamp today, in the presence of both trainees and distinguished guests.
FTL’s first cohort consists of 31 students from the LDCs, studying at Turkish universities, who have the potential to become inspiring role models, shatter stereotypes, and highlight the role of science and tech in sustainable development. The bootcamp and all other planned activities of the programme will provide them with means for action when it comes to developing digital solutions for community challenges. With that, FTL aims to address the digital divide in LDCs and inspire the next generation of tech specialists, as well as to encourage young women to pursue education and careers in the field of technology.
The programme, which is a result of the collaboration between UNDP ICPSD and the United Nations Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries (UNTB), was launched during a side event at the 5th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Qatar in March 2023. UNDP and UNTB aim to provide equal opportunities for the youth of LDCs through digital transformation and upskilling in emerging tech areas, such as artificial intelligence and data science, to support the achievement of the SDGs. FTL is now being jointly implemented by UNDP ICPSD’s SDG AI Lab, UNTB and the Government of Türkiye, who were all present today to welcome the first cohort of the programme’s participants.
Mr. Erhan Sırt, Head of Multilateral Development Cooperation Department with the Presidency of Strategy and Budget of the Presidency of Türkiye, highlighted the partnership between Türkiye and the LDCs by saying: “We actively champion digital transformation and talent development in LDCs. We share Türkiye's journey as a regional tech leader and its best practices via the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and UN Technology Bank. Now through the Frontier Tech Leaders Türkiye will be supporting the LDCs in nurturing tech talents necessary for digital transformation.”
The Director of UNDP ICPSD, Mr. Sahba Sobhani, talked about his aspirations for the programme to bridge the digital gap that hinders youth from developing countries to learn, use and work in tech. He shared his hopes for all programme participants to become tech leaders and thanked the partners for their continuous support by saying: “Together we will train youth from the LDCs with advanced digital skills, such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and provide them with entrepreneurial training and mentorship that equips them with the necessary skills to thrive in a dynamic tech sector”.
The Programme Management Officer of the UN Technology Bank, Ms. Burcu Morel, on the other hand, talked about the significance of frontier technologies for the fast-tracking of the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the LDCs: “Recognizing the value of involving youth in digital transformation, we firmly believe that our current efforts and the Frontier Tech Leaders Programme will create valuable synergies and reinforce each other's impact, as we train the next generation of tech leaders in LDCs to tackle the unique challenges faced by their communities. This initiative closely aligns with the UN Technology Bank's overarching priorities as we are confident that the Frontier Tech Leaders Programme will make a significant contribution to the inclusive digital transformation in LDCs”. She also called upon all relevant actors to increase their support for LDCs in harnessing the potential of technology during this critical decade of action.
Following the welcome remarks of the partners, the Programme Coordinator Ms. Beril Benli and Community Manager Ms. Izel Karaoğlu gave a brief introduction to the initiative and the Machine Learning bootcamp before allowing all participants to introduce themselves and interact during the ice-breaker activities.
In addition to the bootcamp that started today, the FTL programme also plans for the establishment and operalization of local chapters, the launch of the Virtual Digital Business Incubator, an outreach campaign, and a resource and partnerships mobilization part. Based on the pilot initiative, the FTL programme will be further expanded to other development partners in the following phases.
About UN Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries
The UN Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries became operational in 2018 and serves the 46 least developed countries (LDCs) and former least developed countries for up to five years after their graduation from the category. Headquartered in Gebze, Turkey, the UN Technology Bank actively engages with national, regional, and international partners to deliver its programme and projects which strengthen science, technology, and innovation capacity in least developed countries. The UN Technology Bank supports national and regional technological efforts, reinforces partnerships across sectors and helps nations identify and use appropriate technologies to transform their economies and improve livelihoods.
About UNDP ICPSD's SDG AI Lab
The SDG AI Lab is a joint initiative of the UNDP Bureau of Policy and Programme Support, hosted under UNDP IICPSD. The Lab has a mission to harness the potential of frontier technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for sustainable development. SDG AI Lab provides research, development, and advisory services in the areas of frontier technologies and sustainable development. The Lab supports UNDP’s internal capacity-strengthening efforts for the increasing demand for digital solutions. To bridge the talent gap in the use of frontier technologies in development contexts, the Lab mobilizes a community of volunteer data scientists, connecting UNDP teams and highly skilled data scientists to address development challenges with digital solutions.
Gergana Georgieva, UNDP ICPSD Communication Consultant. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org